Filet mignon is the most tender part of the cow and comes from the tenderloin. Finding a wine that pairs well with this delicate cut of meat depends on how the steak will be served.
While most filet mignons are served with a sauce or gravy and a glass of rich, red wine, if you are preparing it with a simple salt and butter sear you’ll want to choose a lighter wine to complement the meat's flavor profile.
Read on to learn more about 7 different types of wine that go well with a traditional filet mignon.
Merlot is a type of dark-blue grape that is used in many different types of wines. One of the types of wine that is made from Merlot grapes is, you guessed it, Merlot! The word Merlot itself is a diminutive from French, meaning blackbird. This is most likely a reference to the grape's dark color.
Merlot wine can be harvested early, like traditional winemakers from the Bordeaux region of France, or harvested late such as the international style favored by others. Harvesting late will produce a darker, fuller-bodied wine. The traditional style of harvesting early yields a less intensely dark, medium-bodied wine.
If you are looking for less dry and less acidic, go with the international style. If you’re having your filet over lunch or early dinner, spring for the slightly lighter Bordeaux style.
2. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is the French word for pine and black. It is a grape variety that is used to create Pinot Noir wine. The wine, a light, medium-bodied, variety features low tannins and aromas of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.
This is the perfect wine to pair with a filet mignon that is being served without sauce. A filet that is topped with a simple salt and pepper rub calls for a much lighter wine than the typical dark reds that are usually suggested for this cut of meat.
A great variety of Pinot Noir is the Sextant Pinot Noir Santa Lucia. With notes of rose petals and blackberries, this Monterey, California wine is a solid choice for your most tender steaks.
3. Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the most noticeable red wine grape varieties, the Cabernet Sauvignon is a hardy grape that grows almost anywhere. In fact, you can find this variety grown in almost every wine-making region throughout the world.
This wine variety is extremely versatile and produces different flavors and tannins depending on the region in which it is grown. In colder climates, the wine contains hints of mint, cedar, and green bell pepper. While in warmer areas notes of black cherry and black olives.
The traditional Cabernet Sauvignon profile is that of a low-bodied, high acidity wine with high tannins. While the wine pairs excellently with any red meat, coupled with the filet mignon is where the drink complements the best.
Another excellent choice to pair with the filet mignon is the Malbec wine. This dark, inky grape is one of the six varieties allowed into a Bordeaux blended wine.
After a devastating frost in 1956, the Bordeaux region of France lost approximately 75% of this grape's harvest. After the decimating frost, Malbec was added to Merlot and Tannat to make a full-bodied wine that was extra dark and dry. Recently winemakers have been introducing new recipes that feature only Malbec grapes.
If you are enjoying your filet mignon with a heavy sauce, as tradition would call for, this is a great wine to pair alongside it. The full, dryness of the wine will complement the sauce or gravy on the cut of meat well.
If you're looking for a break from the classic reds, a great white wine to pair with a rubbed filet mignon is the Chardonnay. What once was only located in the Burgundy Wine region of Eastern France, Chardonnay is now viewed as the easiest entry into the wine-making scene.
This is a neutral wine, one of the only on our list, and as such can be paired with any meal. It is a medium to light-bodied wine with subtle hints of oak and tropical fruit. It is best enjoyed chilled, while some may even enjoy ice in it as well.
While Chardonnay is a wine variety that is commonly found in most stores, Butter Knife Chardonnay has a great blend that kicks up the smooth, buttery flavor compared to most other winemakers.
The Italian wine on our list, the Sangiovese is an old Latin phrase that translates to ‘the blood of Jupiter’. Cool name aside, this is a great dark red wine that has been well known throughout the region since at least the 16th century.
A medium tannin, high acidity wine, the Sangiovese has two distinct flavor profiles depending on if the wine is young or old. In the younger bottles you will find a slightly spicy, strawberry undernote. In the older versions, however, the wine has a flavor profile of sour cherries and tea leaves.
Whichever version you prefer, both go well with a gravy-submerged filet mignon. The younger varieties of this wine complement the spices within the filet while the older varieties add an extra kick to the cut of meat.
7. Lunch Wine
While not typically paired with heavy filet mignons, if you are looking for something less alcoholic and with a low body, serve your steak alongside a lunch wine. A lunch wine can include many different types of wine but they usually feature these commonalities:
- Low bodied
- Low alcohol
- High acidity
Lunch wines have a tendency to cut through heavy meals. The light, almost sour taste of these types of wines complements a side salad with your meal as well as the filet mignon. A lunch wine is a great alternative if you’re looking to enjoy a wine with your meal but aren’t looking for something as heavy as the dark red wines.
While you can call anything a lunch wine if you ‘technically’ have it for lunch, there are a few varieties that are almost always considered a lunch wine: